“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

As part of our Thanksgiving service at church each year, we have the opportunity to hear testimonies of God’s work in people’s lives. At some point in the service we are always reminded that whether our current circumstance has on the top of the mountain or in the deepest of valleys, God is the author of both. The theme verse for this service is 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Let’s face it; it’s easier to give thanks in certain circumstances than others, but God’s Word says we are to give thanks in ALL of them. What Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 has a tendency to strike us the same way as when James writes, “Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). The call to obey is clear, but obedience to that call is easier said than done. In fact, without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, it’s impossible.

Over the last couple of years, many of the testimonies in this Thanksgiving service have been from people dealing with difficult and often uncertain circumstances in their lives. But in spite of that, they testify to God’s faithfulness and grace. I always leave this service encouraged yet reminded that the problems I have aren’t really problems at all.

God’s love and faithfulness is threaded throughout the Bible. That love was demonstrated most clearly in the person of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul wrote about the importance of joy and contentment not being based on our circumstance, but rather on our relationship with Christ. He also demonstrated it in his life. Paul prayed less about a change in his circumstance, only that he would glorify God through whatever circumstance in which he found himself. He trusted that God could take any circumstance and work it for good. And though he may not have known why what was happening was happening, he knew there was a purpose behind it (Romans 8:28-29). So, when we give thanks during this year, let us remember how much we have to be thankful for. Let us remember that it’s not only on the mountaintop that God is faithful, but also in the valley. Let us remember that the Author of our circumstance has also written its ending. It is in that truth we rest our hope and give our thanks!

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